You and your Burdens

It is our Lord’s meekness and lowliness that made His great burden so light. And it is out of His own experience that He speaks to us. ‘Bring a meek heart to your burden as I did,’ He says to us, ‘Bring the same mind to your yoke as I brought to my yoke, and see how easy it will feel.’ Go to Him in any circumstance, and whatever He sees good to do with you and your burden, He will begin to give you another heart under it. He will begin to give you a meek and lowly heart. It is not your burden that weighs you down. It is your proud, rebellious self-seeking, self-pleasing heart. Had He dealt with you after your sins and rewarded you according to your iniquities, you would not have been here to find fault with the way He is leading you to pardon, peace and everlasting life.

– Alexander Whyte

Psalm 90 – Teach Us to Number our Days

This is one of my favorite psalms; I have several favorites – Psalm 1, Psalm 40, Psalm 84, and others; but among my favorites also is Psalm 90; I read 2-3 Psalms every morning as a part of my morning Bible readings. Whenever I see that I have come to Psalm 90 again, my heart warms and I look forward to it.

The author is Moses, and it is a prayer, a prayer about man’s smallness and temporalness, and the shortness of our life and years. Perhaps my favorite part of the psalm is vss. 12-17 at the end of the psalm.

What specific requests does Moses make here?

1. TEACH US (vs 12) – “teach us to number our days, in order that we may gain a heart of wisdom”. Who doesn’t need that? Teach me, O God, all your ways; I need to be taught by God Himself. Even Moses himself was teachable, and cried out to God to be taught. Are we beyond this, even when life is fleeting by, and we are heading into our later years? We all need to be “taught” continually by the Holy Spirit, and one of the utmost things to be taught is to “number our days”, in order to gain a wise heart.

2. SATISFY US (vs 14) – Our hearts need and want satisfaction continually. That is why this world is continually in pursuit of vacations, fun, entertainment, and holiday get-a-ways to some remote beautiful destination; this is why people love to travel to new places they’ve never seen, and want to experience new things for the first time. Satisfaction–the heart needs it and longs for it. Here Moses prays that GOD would satisfy him; why? because only God can truly and permanently satisfy a person’s heart, soul, and spirit. Man cannot be satisfied by anything except by the One who made him. “Satisfy us early with your mercy.” When Christ Himself satisfies our hearts and lives, and we find true contentment in Him, then a dungeon or a jail cell can be like a palace to us. When Christ satisfies us, nothing else has to; but when Christ is not our satisfaction, nothing else will permanently satisfy.

3. MAKE US GLAD (vs 15) – Gladness? Yes, gladness of heart; Make me a truly happy man, happy in You, Lord; no one likes or is attracted to a gloomy, sad Christian. There is no beauty or attraction in such Christianity; yes, there are times of sadness, sorrow, and trials, but we normally should radiate the joy, pleasure, and gladness of spirit that emanates from Christ Himself. Even suffering Christians often do this in spite of their hardships. Why would Moses pray, “make us glad” unless it were a valid and godly request?

4. LET YOUR WORK APPEAR (vs 16) – God showing us progressively His purposes, will, and His kingdom work is all that ultimately matters in this life; all else is temporal and passing. “The world is passing away, and its lust, but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17) Can you pray, “Show us, show me, Your work, O Lord; show me continually all you want of me and all you have for me.”

5. LET THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD BE UPON US (vs 17) – God’s beauty and glory being upon our lives; what a thing to pray. It was upon Moses and is the desire of every true believer. Let it be upon me, Lord.

6. ESTABLISH THE WORK OF OUR HANDS (vs 17) – Each of us have a specific work, calling, and purpose that only we can fulfill; no one can live our life for us; we cannot be anyone else or do the work of another person; trying to be like others is always frustrating and failure; let us be ourselves and serve our own generation by personally, from the heart, do the will of God for us; He has a work for our own hands to fulfill that no one else can do. “Establish, Lord, the work of my hands.”

May God hear our cries for such reality as He did Moses; A greater than Moses is here–and He lives within every believer to fulfill each of these realities in our hearts as we cry out to him with such praying.

– Mack Tomlinson

Godly Companions

“And this man (William Burns), the friendship of this man with all he was and had been, was the gift and blessing of God at this particular juncture to Hudson Taylor. Week after week, month after month they lived and traveled together, the exigencies of their work bringing out resources of mind and heart that otherwise might have remained hidden. Such a friendship is one of the crowning blessings of life. Money cannot buy it; influence cannot command it. It comes as love unsought, and only to the equal soul. Young and immature as he was, Hudson Taylor had the capacity to appreciate, after long years of loneliness, the preciousness of this gift. Under its influence, he grew and expanded and came to an understanding of himself and his providential position that left its impression on his later life. William Burns was better to him that a college course with all its advantages, because he lived out before him right there in China the reality of all he most needed to be and know.”

(pg. 364, The Growth of A Soul – Hudson Taylor in Early Years)

As a Man Thinketh: The Importance of a Renewed Mind, Pt 1

The longer one lives in this world as a Christian, the more he or she becomes aware of the significance of their words and thoughts. The mind of the believer plays a far more central role that we often realize. ‘As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’, says the scriptures. We realize more and more that the battle in the Christian life really is a battle for the mind to be renewed and controlled by God’s truth. As a person “thinketh” in their heart, so they are and will be.

One of the primary reasons the Christian’s mind is so important is because all of life’s experiences, good or bad, flow out of the choices we make daily as a believer. All choices are the fruit of what we believe and think, whether words or choices. Everything related to what we do and how we live flows out of our heart and mind, which are really the same thing in the Bible. This is why the Bible says, ‘As a man thinketh in his heart . . .’ Thinking with the heart? Don’t we think with our mind? Here the inspired writer of Scripture makes it clear that the heart of a person is so intertwined with the mind, that man is pictured as thinking with his heart. Jesus put it the same way when he said, ‘Out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts’ (Mark 7:21). When we think of the believer’s journey in grace, we must never separate our heart and spirit from our minds and our thoughts.

John Piper says, ‘Paul said in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The word Paul uses here for transform is the word we use for the metamorphosis of a butterfly. The change in the end is something completely different than was there before. This is how total the transformation should be when it comes to our thinking. And remember, our thoughts determine our actions.’
One author tells the story that in 1952 Florence Chadwick wanted to swim California’s shoreline. She had already been the first woman to swim the English Channel. Once she began her journey across the ocean water, her fear got the best of her. Scared of sharks, fighting the fog and the chilly water, she told the boat beside her she wanted to quit. She had already been swimming for 15 hours, was exhausted and ready to throw in the towel. Her mother tried to encourage her, telling her she was close, but panicking, Chadwick gave up. It all had to do with her outlook and mindset. Even on the human level within the experience of common grace, Chadwick’s mind was not renewed to believe the truth that she could have made it all the way.

Chadwick’s experience pictures the Christian often adjusting our choices to what we believe to be the truth. Within the process of our salvation, the mind is a major battlefield, the major place where victories are won or lost in the Christian life. Just consider a moment a few of the many places where the Bible emphasizes the place of the mind and how primary its place is in the scriptures:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding (Psalm 49:3).

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:20-23).

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee (Isaiah 26:3).

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30).

But I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members (Romans 7:23).

In their case, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4).

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5).

As a man thinks, so is he! . . . . to be continued

– Mack Tomlinson

More of the Holy Spirit

There is an old saying in fundamental circles for a long time, that you cannot have more of the Holy Spirit if you already have the Holy Spirit. That sounds good on the surface, but it is not so. Even though as a believer, we are permanently indwelt by the person of the Holy Spirit, we can still have more of the Holy Spirit—more of His anointing, more of His power, His gifts, graces, fullness, and empowering. No Christian has all of the infinite Spirit because God gives the Spirit in measure to the saints. But to Jesus, God gave the Spirit without measure or limits. Only Christ had all the Spirit without measure.

But for the child of God, there are varyings and intensities of anointings. And some things we simply cannot explain in our own terms. We start trying to comprehend the incomprehensible God with our own minds, and it is like a bench trying to understand the carpenter that made it. It is impossible.

As a believer, you can have more of the Spirit, for what else could Luke 11:13 mean—‘If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him’? This is Paul’s prayer, that we might be strengthened with might by the Spirit in the human spirit, the inner man, to the point that Christ dwells in such a deeper and relational measure, that we increasingly know and experience the love of Christ which passes knowledge; it transcends the mind, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.

“More, more, about Jesus; more, more, about Jesus; more of His saving fulness see, more of His love, who died for me.”

– Mack Tomlinson

Wisdom Speaks

In every generation the number of the righteous is small. Be sure you are among them.
– A. W. Tozer

In the Irish Revival of 1859, people became so weak that they could not get back to their homes. Men and women would fall by the wayside and would be found hours later pleading with God to save their souls. They felt that they were slipping into hell and that nothing else in life mattered but to get right with God… To them eternity meant everything; nothing else was of any consequence. They felt that if God did not have mercy on them and save them, they were doomed for all time to come.
– Oswald J. Smith

As a Christian, I am responsible for the furniture of my mind.
– Frank E. Gaebelein

Holiness is an impossibility without the Holy Spirit.
– Anonymous

God can gift people, but it is something else when a man is in favor with God; when God can say, ‘For this man’s sake, I will not judge this city or I will show favour to this church’.
– Greg Gordon

Live in Christ and the flesh need not fear death.
– John Knox

God’s choice acquaintances are humble men.
– Robert Leighton

An Appreciation of Jerry Bridges

Jerry Bridges died in his eighty-sixth year on March 6, 2016. Once or twice I shared the speaking duties with him at a couple of conferences and enjoyed getting to know him. He wrote a little autobiography, God Took Me By the Hand, which threw light on his humble origins in the Depression years of the 1920s in the USA.

He was born with four physical defects: he was cross-eyed, deaf in his right ear, and had deformities in his breastbone and spine. His parents were financially poor, education dropouts, and religiously and socially isolated. There were no boys his age in the neighbourhood, and no toys in the house. They lived alongside the railway tracks. ‘I was probably the poorest of the poor.’ His parents could not afford to give him money for the more nutritious school meals, or 25 cents for him to see the conjurer’s show when it made its annual visit to the school, or to pay for his eyesight to be remedied. He got up at 4 a.m. and delivered newspapers each day. He lost his mother when he was fourteen and henceforth lived at home with his father. Yet from Scripture he came to know that ‘of God and through God and to God are all things’. From Psalm 139 he learned that God had created him just as he was, birth defects and all. God controlled the genetics and God gave him a fine ­intelligence quotient. Jerry’s book The Pursuit of Holiness has sold a million copies and he wrote more than a dozen other books, all worth reading and passing on. I have just read his final book on humility which is a sweet study of the Beatitudes. He was awarded a D.D. from Westminster Seminary.

By the common grace of God Jerry Bridges was placed under excellent teachers in school and university. In his church he painfully learned that going forward in response to an altar call is not the same as being converted. When he was nine someone asked him why he wasn’t going forward to be saved, and so he went forward, but felt no different. He went forward again when he was eleven, and two years later he did it again but with the same negative response. He said to himself that evening that he was never going to go forward again. Jerry wrote, ‘we do need to understand and believe the gospel, and we do need to put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, but in the final result it is the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit that makes us new creatures in Christ.’

Jerry’s brother became the assistant pastor in the church and one evening he called him and asked eighteen-year-old Jerry if he would like to come with him to visit a member. As they discussed the faith his brother said to this man, ‘If you don’t know you are saved you are probably not, because when you are saved you know it.’ With hindsight, Jerry looked back at that conversation and realized that he would not make such an absolute statement, but back then it was a spur to settle his own relationship with God. That night in his room he prayed and said, ‘O God, I don’t know if I need to go forward in church again or not. I don’t want to but if I have to, I am willing. Whatever it takes, I want Jesus to be my Saviour.’ Immediately he had assurance of salvation and quickly went off to sleep. Soon he read Romans 5:1, ‘Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ He had no doubts about his salvation ever again.
Soon Jerry joined the Navy and he came into contact with the Navigators and learned the importance of personal devotions and the memorization of Scripture. Again a sincere half-right statement was used by God to direct his mind into taking the word of God seriously. A Navigators’ teacher said, ‘The Bible was not given to increase your knowledge but to guide your conduct.’ Of course Scripture is not a book of morals but God’s redemptive plan in Christ, but Jerry read the Bible henceforth to believe and obey.
In January 1960 in San Diego he attended a church where one night a woman gave him a booklet and asked him to read it. It was called The Doctrine of Election, and as he glanced at it he was deeply offended. He had never met this doctrine before. He thought that the woman was taking him into heresy. He put the booklet aside and refused to engage with it, but the thought stayed in his head and the very next morning as he prayed he was probed by God. Fifty years later he still remembers how the one called ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ dealt with him.
How many people are in San Diego?

About 600,000.
How many of them do you think are believers?
No more than 60,000. Ten per cent.
You are one of them, aren’t you?
Yes Lord, and I am so grateful that I am.
Why are you a believer?

Immediately Jerry had to go back to the love and initiative of God in saving him. It was not a lucky decision. It was God who had made the difference, and so he prayed, ‘Lord, I have offered myself to you before, but in the light of a deeper understanding of your mercy and grace, I present myself once more.’ He added that in the twinkling of an eye he was changed to what he later learned was a Calvinist position. It was a watershed event for him. ‘It eventually changed my whole outlook about God, the world, and the gospel. It eventually led to a clear understanding of the sovereignty of God.’ Over the next three years the woman who had given him the booklet on the doctrine of election sent him books on the Puritans and as he read them and studied the Bible he became a committed Calvinist, ‘but I hope a friendly Calvinist toward those who hold a different view’.

For a while Jerry worked for the Navigators in the Netherlands, and there he met our friend Alan Levy, the pastor in Pontarddulais, Wales. Alan remembers their meetings in a park where they ate their sandwiches at lunchtime and shared their growing appreciation of the doctrines of grace. It was in the Netherlands that Jerry was asked to fill in for a speaker who had been taken ill. This was the first time he had spoken at a meeting of more than a handful of people. It was God’s first step in Jerry’s ultimately preaching the word on a full-time basis.

In September 1976 he began to write The Pursuit of Holiness in his spare time and it was published in October 1978, and I suppose it will never go out of print. God blessed the book because it was indeed a serious call to holiness. Jerry assumed that it would be the only book he would ever write and that he had said all that he wanted to say in it. How differently things turned out!
Jerry once told me that the most important book he had ever read was George Smeaton’s The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement. ‘In this book Smeaton looks at every verse on the atonement from Acts to Revelation. The value of it lies in its continued emphasis on the representative union of Christ and his people.’ He was anxious that Americans read and understand these truths and so in 2007 he wrote The Great Exchange which was based on Smeaton’s great classic.

Jerry Bridges was sixty-five years of age before his first books began to appear. If God had planned for him to be a writer and teacher, why did God wait for so long to bring his purposes to full development? Jerry said, ‘God wanted me to write and teach truths that have to be learned through lots of difficult experiences and lots of mistakes. But by his providence he had been leading me all the way. To him be the glory.’

Jerry Bridges looked back through his life with some self-analysis. Maybe he is right in his diagnosis. It is worth seeing things as he looked at it all. ‘The years 1955 through 2011 were a period of fifty-six years. I look at twenty-five of them as experiencing the blessing of God on my labours. Another fifteen years were clearly painful, and another sixteen were neither particularly painful nor blessed. As I look at these numbers I feel especially blessed by God. I think of relatives and friends whose lives have been marked more by pain than by anything else, and I realized how blessed I have been.’

— Geoff Thomas

Thoughts from Andrew Bonar on Joy

Daily Thoughts: The Joy of the Lord

Thoughts from Andrew Bonar on Joy

I have been taught that joy in the Spirit is the frame in which God blesses us to others. Joy arises from fellowship with Him; I find that whatever sorrow or humiliation of spirit presses on us, that it all should give way, in some measure, to a fresh taste of God’s love when going forth to preach.

I was much struck today by a simple thought, namely, that our joys are only beginning! Yes, the joys we have tasted are a mere foretaste. All we get here below is but an earnest and no more. And as truly as our joys are only beginning, so our sorrows are soon ending. They will soon be over–our last tear shed and our last sigh expressed.

Rejoice is as much a command as repent.

Cultivate joy as much as you cultivate honesty and uprightness.

The oil of joy calms down the waves of trouble.

Why should we be afraid to rejoice when God is not afraid to trust us with joy?

Love is the motive for working, and joy is the strength for working.

Would it have been right for the prodigal son to sit at his father’s table in tears, saying, “I just cannot be glad”, when the Father said, “It is right that we should make merry and be glad?”

Love and joy are the two prominent fruits of the Spirit. If you can cherish this glad spirit, you will be a useful witness, even if you never speak a word.

There are far more people make to think by seeing a Christian’s joy than by any words he may speak.

— Andrew Bonar

Serving One’s Purpose in Christ’s Body

This has always been a problem in Christianity. The body splits itself into little groups of people who all have the same gifts. As a result we have one little bunch which is all mouth, who do nothing but talk. Another bunch, all feet, are constantly running around in circles. Another group, all ears, just sit and listen. Another group, all brain, sits at studies and tickles its intellectual ears. Another, all hands, is feverishly busy doing and doing and getting nothing done. But without the unity of all the body with its diverse members and gifts complementing each other, nothing is accomplished and every member suffers form the loss of each other.

Can you imagine the frustration and misery of an ear, all its life, trying, struggling, and fretting to see? Oh, beloved brethren! Find where God wants you in the body. Let Him fit you in and do not let anyone try to force you into some other place. The ear has its perfectly normal function to hear. It does it without fret, fuss, or effort–by simply abiding in its place in the body spontaneously serving is purpose with beauty and ease.

Conrad Murrell

God Guides Those who Fear Him

‘What man is he that feareth the LORD? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.’ (Psalm 25:12-13)

There was a time not too many years ago when a believer was described simply as a ‘God-fearing man.’ That was before modern thought struck upon the idea that it was dishonoring to the mercy and goodness of God to fear Him, and the shallow “God loves everybody all the time anyway” mentality began. The Bible teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A person who fears God simply thinks of God first and foremost in all his actions, the governing factor being a desire to please Him. It is the motivating emotion that dominates the righteous person’s life.

The person who fears God need fear nothing else. He who does not fear God must fear every other threat, for he has no substantial defense.
The person who fears God will learn, for God Himself will teach him. He will be guided, for the Good Shepherd will unerringly lead him. He will be taught in the right way to go, the right things to do and the right decisions to make.

Many people erroneously expect God to give us a road map, a set of exhaustive instructions so that when any matter comes up all we need do is get out our road maps, or our rule book, our procedure manual, and go ahead. Not so! If that were true, we could take these and walk off from God because we would need Him no more.

Those who fear God, walk with Him. We, indeed, have the Bible which gives us righteous principles, but as for specific details for our everyday mundane living, often we can find no specific directions in the Scriptures.

God will choose for us at the time the choices we need to make. He shall choose our way for us and cause us to walk in that way. Few things are more comforting to the Christian than knowing that the Lord has ordered his steps. That is what is meant by, ‘his soul shall be at ease.’ He is not in a fizz and tizzy all the time wondering if he has made the right choices.

The seed of the righteous are those who have been born from above, begotten by the Spirit. They shall abide forever and inherit all things.
— Conrad Murrell